Sunday, 28 June 2015

Where may my Bromley Ancestor have been cremated?

I recently was asked this question by a visitor to Bromley Archives and Local Studies and it is interesting to record that in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century cremation came to be a phenomenon.
In the last decade of the century the Dunn Funeral accounts contain references to cremation.
The practice of burning bodies in many civilisations has been recorded for millenia some Australian evidence suggests ritual 20,000 years old. The Egyptians adopted preservation of the body and the Romans also preserved the body in a lead or stone coffin long before Christianity spread across Europe.
Early Christianity rejected cremation as a remaining pagan ritual and developed the belief that the Resurrection of Christ (from the Jewish tradition of burial in a stone tomb) indicated a need for the individual at the Second Coming of Christ to present their whole body before him rather than as a fragmented body of ash.
In the nineteenth century British involvement in India and other countries where open air cremations took place lead to the suggestion that crematoria should be built in India to end such open air cremation and in Britain suggested legislation but both church and government opposed the suggestion of cremation.
In 1874 in London the Cremation Society was formed and campaigned for cremation due to the growth in population in many cities exceeding the burial space with consequent increase in expense of burial. The idea of a cheaper and cleaner alternative to the costs of funeral and burial which involved purchase of ground in a burial site governed by legislation to protect water sources from ground pollution was attractive to many people. In Germany crematoria were in operation but a number of British Bishops objected to this example as " a heathen practice".
Sir Henry Thompson Physician to Queen Victoria lead the Cremation Society to negotiate with the London Necropolis Company to purchase an acre of  land near Woking despite opposition and on 17 March 1879 they tested the crematoria by cremating a dead horse which lead to local residents complaining and The Home Secretary, Sir Richard Cross also objected on the grounds that evidence of a murder might be destroyed before proper medical examination of a body could be conducted.
But it was the case of  Doctor William Price an 83 year old Druid medical practitioner in Glamorgan. Price was also an anti vivisectionist strict vegetarian who advocated free love and fathered a son by his housekeeper,naming his son Jesus Christ Price. When the child died aged 5 days in January 1884 Price cremated his remains  on an open air pyre on a hill in Llantrisant dressed in Druidic robes and conducting druidic ritual. So great was the public outcry that Price was mobbed by an angry crowd to be rescued by the police who arrested him for what they believed to be illegal disposal of a corpse which was recovered from the flames.The corpse was medically examined and found to have died of natural causes. Price appeared at Cardiff Assizes before Mister Justice Stephen who agreed with Price's defence that cremation was neither legal or illegal and the case lead to the body being released  for Price to conduct his Druidic cremation at Llantrisant on 14 March 1884.further detail on Price This case lead to legislation which brought passage of the Cremation Act 1902 c.8 Regnal 2_Edw_7.
The Act regulated the location of crematoria and inspection of facilities and authrised local Crematoria.
However the other effect of Price's case at Cardiff Assizes was to enable the Cremation Society to begin cremations at Woking. On 26 March 1885 Mrs Jeannette Pickersgill was cremated at Woking and 2 further creamtions followed in 1885. In 1886 ten bodies were cremated and by 1888 when 28 cremations took place additional land for a chapel,waiting rooms and other facilities were provided by public subscription.
To return to Bromley the first record source for cremation of residents of the town is the Dunn funeral account. By the 1880's the Dunn family had conducted funerals since 1803 and from 1866 onwards commercial directories do not identify another Bromley undertaker in business until the end of the nineteeth century. The Cremation Society had clearly been of interest to that number of persons who had been buried in the unconsecrated area of the Bromley Burial Board Cemetery and Dunns as a mature undertaking business and member of the national body were familiar with both the London Necropolis Company and the Cremation Society. The carriage of corpses from Woking for burial in South London as well as carriage of corpses to Waterloo for burial at Woking is present in the accounts as Dunns buried in most London cemeteries and collected bodies repatriated to England from overseas. It is not surprising therefore to find references to Woking crematorium and fees of £5 to the Cremation Society in a small number of accounts each year as the Woking Crematorium became increasingly popular. Dunns provided a type of coffin which met the requirements of The Cremation Society and all subsequent creamations that is a coffin assembled from easily combustible materials and without metallic furnishings and this is mentioned in accounts from the 1890's.
Herbert George Dunn modernised all aspects of the business in Market Square and the accounts contain evidence of Dunns being part of London and national trade association for undertakers. In the last years of the nineteenth century the British Institute of Undertakers was formed. In 1904 the London Funeral Furnishers Association came into being followed by the British Undertakers' Association. Dunns were members of these developing Associations  and would have approved for membership any undertakers beginning to trade in Bromley..
In 1900 land for the first crematorium in London, Golders Green Crematorium was purchased and the Crematorium opened in 1902 offering families and funeral directors assisting them an alternative to Woking. It was not until 1956 that the Beckenham Crematorium and Cemetery on the site of the Crystal Palace District Cemetery or Elmers End Cemetery of the nineteenth century  provided local crematorium for Bromley and district.
© Henry Mantell 2015

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Hands on ....but not at Bromley Museum

This week I spent a thoroughly absorbing morning at Bethlem Museum of the Mind visiting both the Gallery and Museum which had a "hands on" experience with items from the Bethlem  collection. I would describe the many items displayed as relatively easy to work out through to complete mysteries.
It is worth bearing in mind that the the archive is from the oldest psychiatric hospital in the world and therefore objects which remain unclassified and mysterious can come from eighteenth or twentieth century use.
This was also an opportunity for me to meet the wonderful Renia Jenkins who had set visitors the challenges. Some of the items took me back to my childhood early memories. I soon recognised a familiar small object and recalled my grandmother in Staffordshire who cooked on a black lead range with a kettle suspended over the open grate and three ovens;one was a slow oven which cooked rice pudding,another was the bread oven and this is where I learned to bake. The third oven was for roasting etc. Of course the lead range the precursor of the beloved Aga cooker (on which my mother worked as a housekeeper) needed to be black leaded regularly and there at Bethlem was Zebra which my grandmother used! I began to think of the Lambeth site of the hospital and of the kitchen and laundry for the hospital.
As well as some scientific items one a mysterious glass measuring jar marked in both different spoon sizes and liquid measures. The glass was however not open at the top and possessed a shoulder and angled opening. Renia said that this had bemused dispensing chemist historians and the purpose remains a mystery. A fascinating object and I wondered roughly what period the manufactured glass had come from. My memory of Bethlem's apothecary until the Asylum reforms at Lambeth in the 1850's had me wondering who had used the measuring device. An intriguing conundrum and it was a lesson in the challenge of catalogue descriptions for such artefacts.
Renia had another challenge in the shape of a cast iron object with 4 clearly constructed holes for fixing either vertically or horizontally. A plain functional hinged handle opened around three different diameter openings. As I handled the object it felt natural for me for this object to be mounted vertically somewhere as the handles seem inclined to hang and form a closure. The black painted cast iron was decorated with a foliage pattern. A true mystery of the kind that you keep turning over in your mind.
When I returned online I emailed a USA based genealogist who I knew had knowledge of Pennsylvania cast iron manufactured savings boxes and other items and gave a verbal description of the Bethlem object. I was delighted with the response as I was able to pass on to Renia what the mystery item was.
 This item is more elaborate than the simpler Bethlem version whose handle was plain cast iron. The catalogue description of the cast iron Crimpier was as follows
American, 19th century figural crimpier or flutter in the form of three footed foliage base with hinged top, upon which is winding snake with head raised and acting as handle; opens to reveal 4 graduated vertically fluted cylinders, in old, if not original black paint; cast intaglio mark on base J. Monis Co./Phil.; 10" long x 5.4" wide x 3.25" high.
The Bethlem item is therefore from the laundry of the hospital and was designed to hold 3 sizes of cast iron rollers for use in ironing collars. It's date and manufacture are not known. What was not present at Bethlem was the other parts of the equipment which would have been heated in a fire and then the roller would have gained heat from the roller base. The roller would be tested on paper for sufficient heat to perform the ironing function.
Renia has contacted me since my visit and found herself "grateful cross and delighted" at my finding what this mystery object was for. My first point in this blog is to emphasise that I was a member of the public offered a hands on experience by Bethlem Museum and that this is the very essence of museum collections that something historical which is not recognised or understood by the present generation has value in describing the social history of earlier generations. In over 6 decades of life I am still learning about my forebears through the opportunites to handle and visit artefacts in collections and what a collection Bethlem possesses!
Which brings me to a second point the sad subject of Bromley Museum. Prolific blogger and museum volunteer Tincture of Museum has described the decision of councillors on the Executive this month to close Bromley Museum from 1 October 2015 see Bromley Museum Lost
The Bromley Museum service has offered artefacts to 60 schools in the large London borough who are required within the National Curriculum to study various periods of history. The strength of Bromley Museum has been the work of its Education officer (soon to be redundant) in providing museum based activities during school holidays and hands on experience in schools and Museum. Those elected councillors who have ended the Museum have denied access to the collections by learners of all ages but have certainly disadvantaged the rising generation of Bromley Residents.
Bromley proposes to offer two display spaces in the Central Libray although there will be no curator. Bromley Central Library is a building which has been underfunded for decades. It's external cladding of small tiles tinkles down due to weather erosion onto the Neuwied way entrance to Libray and Churchill Theatre as well as flat roofs. The fourth floor toilets have an airlock that is audible throughout all public floors of the building but councillors who demonstrably cannot distinguish between the disciplines of Archival collection and storage and curation of artefects are offering a "new and exciting" display of museum artefacts in the Library on two different floors.
As a daily researcher in the Archival material it does appear that this display is a cosmetic attempt at hiding a dogma of cutting jobs and services. Housing the John Lubbock Collection on the second floor of the building displaces other services offered and is not the most frequented area of the Library building so footfall is likely to be diminished. The Archives and Local Studies staff are committed to providing an excellent service to researchers in maps and document collections. They do not have the time or experience to answer visitors questions about The Lubbock commissioned paintings about the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods and artefacts. Staff cannot at present keep pace with tasks involved in acquisitions so the notion of dealing with museum artefacts is unreal. They do help many to locate council minutes electoral registrations at addresses, house histories, legal searches of archival material and image collections as well as service the large family history research and local history projects.
This blog has been long enough but to hear an elected councillor express that the nationally and internationally significant John Lubbock Collection including the Ernest Griset paintings commissioned by Sir John Lubbock are of little local interest (or apparent value) is lamentable. Lubbock was born and lived  at High Elms in Downe and the collection was at High Elms until surviving the fire which destroyed the house. It is subject to a deed of Covenant loaned to the public of Bromley for public display. It remains to be seen how dogma from local councillors pursuing an austerity programme will deprive local people of the collection. It is ignorance and inability to master a brief that leads a member of a council executive to voice the opinion that Sir John Lubbock 1st Lord Avebury 1834-1913 did not live at High Elms for long. There can be no dialogue with such councillors on the value of history in educating all. I would suggest that a visit to the National School at Downe (now Downe Village Hall) might be a starting point in the reeducation of Bromley Councillors.
I am grateful for the volunteers at Bromley Museum like Tincture of Museum for their contributions to the service.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Bethlem Museum:held by Jane Fradgley

From 30 May-21 August 2015 Bethlem Museum of the Mind and Bethlem Gallery hosts an exhibition of the photography of the "strong" clothing used as restraints. This work has been exhibited before in a variety of locations,
Jane Fradgley visited the small old Bethlem Archives in 2010 and was able to handle the clothing and then photograph in various lighting techniques.
I loved Jane's photographs some items appear with dark backgrounds and the clothing takes on an almost ghostly quality evoking imagination of the occupant. The texture of the clothing is immediate and I felt offered a feeling of safety.
I can recommend a visit to the exhibition as the photography is evocative and enhances the permanent exhibit in the Museum which was itself the subject of a symposium on displaying the subject in the Museum.
One of the rooms at Bethlem Museum of the Mind focuses on restraint and examples of strong clothing. The subject of physical restraint in psychiatry had been controversial and the abandonment of restraints in psychiatric hospitals lead some to claim that it may ironically cause harm to patients.
The Bethlem Royal Hospital officially abandoned restraint in 1851 and the Museum exhibits include items predating this.In the late nineteenth century non-restraint was reassessed and some garments began to reappear and the Bethlem Archive reflects these and the Restraint register displayed illustrates why certain items were in use.
George Savage Bethlem's Superintendent (see George Savage The Lancet 1888 "The Mechanical Restraint of the Insane") described "strong clothing" as garments made of stout linen or woolen material and lined throughout with flannel. The limbs are all free to move but the hands are enclosed in the extremities of the dress, which are padded". He therefore saw slight restraint as liberating people from the mindset of straitwaistcoats handcuffs and padded rooms.
However the 16-20 people per annum restrained by Savage in the Bethlem register was criticised in letters to the Times with eminent psychiatrists on both sides of the debate. In 1890 the Lunacy Act was introduced and was explicit in regulating restraint for the first time and set guidelines. After the introduction of the Act there is an argument that asylums largely adopted the same types of restraint as Savage at Bethlem.
There is scope for failures to record all instances of restraint and physical restraint remained in use into the twentieth century.
I have an immediate interest in physical restraint as later this year I will begin to transcribe the Lunacy Registers of Bromley Poor Law Union Workhouse at Locksbottom as part of the Kent Online Parish Clerks and Bromley Archives Indexing agreement. The Workhouse has a Physical Restraint Register which is not open to the public for another 15 years as entries continued until 1930.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Bromley Funeral vehicles 1803-1915 operated by Dunns

The work of transcribing the first 10 surviving volumes of Dunns funeral accounts is nearing completion and this gives me an opportunity to document the vehicles of the funeral trade carried out by Dunns.
The early volumes from 1803-1830 are descriptive of the Georgian and Regency period of funerals.
As the later volumes confirm the Dunn family prior to 1830 rely on hearses hired by the day although it appears that a hearse was acquired in the 1820's and remained in service. Certainly it is possible to identify this vehicle in accounts as the cost of use was lower than that hired for the occasion.
From the coming of the railway to Bromley the death trade in Bromley changes;it is not uncommon for funeral parties to travel with the coffin by rail and for coffins and Attendant to travel long distances and the accounts include burials in Devon attended and organised by the Dunn family.
In the 1870's there is specific reference to the combined hearse and coach designed by George Shillibeer and as father's give way to son's carrying on the funeral trade within the Dunn family the charge for the "funeral car" reflects use of a Dunn owned Shillibeer. The accounts even detail that the charge for "Funeral car glazed" is identical to the charge for the company's hearse. The Bromley Burial Board Cemetery in London Road was rapidly occupied and the ability to carry passengers (often bearers) as well as the coffin meant it was useful for collection of the body from rail stations in the district  for burial in Bromley.
 The fashion of mourners travelling in carriages continued for a small number of more elaborate funerals but the trade catered to offer a simpler and cheaper funeral for all classes. There was  a readily available group of coachmen in Bromley and Dunn was by the 1870's one of the longest established businesses in Bromley retailing furniture and had expanded from the Market Square premises to open a three storey large furniture depository which housed the vehicle fleet. The Dunn family were one of the major employers in the town.
The need to collect corpses from the Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath lead the family to utilise a variety of vehicles. The company's horse drawn furniture vans were used to collect bodies from Barming and all London Hospitals to bring the corpse in a shell to spend a night before burial either in the shop at Market Square with Attendant or in the depository, This building had been built to be wood partitioned into secure "rooms" for storage and it was therefore relatively simple for a body to accommodated. The accounts regularly specify the location. It is worth bearing in mind that more than one funeral a day might be arranged. Only the large houses of the district could accommodate a coffin and Attendant the accounts specify which room the deceased is to be attendend in such circumstances.
In many child funerals and several adult funerals a year a Brougham was capable of conveying a body to the Cemetery. The Brougham was readily available in Bromley for hire with or without driver and obviously developed as well as cab and fly hire as the need for onward travel from stations developed. The Brougham was a light four wheeled horse drawn carriage which had the advantage of as small a turning circle as the London Carriage Office "Conditions for Fitness" for licensing as a cab for hire.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Churchyard burials at Saints Peter and Paul Bromley

My recent transcription of the burial registers and funeral accounts for Dunn's funeral trade from Market Square and the discovery of an Archive copy of Thomas Wilson's "Accurate description of Bromley" published in 1797 (see http://goo.gl/1eZD7z ) lead me to research what burials took place before Bromley Burial Board opened Bromley Cemetery on London Road.
The burial registers show a dramatic reduction in parish church burials and it is usually only those long established family vaults and burial plots that are used for interments at the parish church.
The church had in the crypt a catacomb (referred to in funeral accounts) as well as vaults for families. I have read local history accounts that only the Bishops of Rochester were buried in this way;but evidence that many prominent local families and tradesmen of the town had vaults and the Dunn funeral accounts contain evidence of vaults dug into the floor of the church requiring removal of benches and clearing up after excavation.
Wilson's engraving of the Church





enabled me to research the location of the various sections of burials in the church yard and with apologies for my lack of artistic skill
we can see that the latest burial plots in the graveyard in what I call section 5 were nearest Church Road and the High Street.
This also links the engraving of the church tower with it's position in the ancient parish church. When in 1941 the ancient church was hit by an high explosive bomb the tower although damaged survived structarally and the site of of the 1950's replacement parish church moved so that nowadays the tower is on the opposite side of the church. In the redesigned church very few intact gravestones survived;those that did are included in the ambulatory of the church. The Church has a useful guide in PDF format (Guide to Bromley Parish church ) which illustrates the history of the building and guides visitors.
Many clergy of the Church are included if not in burial by means of memorials.
The Memorial Inscriptions of the pre 1941 church were recorded by Leland Duncan; it is worth noting that the Bromley Archive copy of the transcribed inscriptions have been heavily corrected both by local Surveyor Mister Baxter whose notes both correct inscription detail and omissions which he found in church and churchyard. I hope that the transcript of Dunn funerals in the nienteenth century will help searchers to find details of those buried by the company and to appreciate the trade of local funeral directors in shaping the church yard.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

"To burial of a stillborn child"

Many years ago as I was lifting quarterly death indexes from the shelving at the Kingsway annex to the Birth Marriage and Deaths I was struck by the difficulty of knowing whether the Male age 0 entries for a surname (and female age 0 ) would be capable of resolving as part of a family. The cost of death certificates and the possibility of a child with the same surname  wholly unrelated could be a proverbial "brickwall" to completing all children born to parents. As one of those genealogists who carried out certificate searches in the galleries at Somerset House you may gather I have been around a long time and as the only surviving child to be registered at birth I feel personally on the pain of parents and siblings  knowing what became of those infants who died in pregnancy or at full term.
Before I write about the registration requirements for "Late Miscarriages" and full term stillbirths let me offer another record source to the conventional which has changed my thoughts on nineteenth century registration.
This year I have been transcribing the funeral account books of Dunn who from 1803 arranged funerals from their premises in Market Square Bromley. These accounts are available at Bromley Archives and are an example of the value of exploring archives. It is possible throughout the year range of these accounts to identify children who were still born as the title of this blog indicates a typical entry;some go on to detail the coffin and place of burial both in Bromley churchyard or later in the Bromley Burial Board Cemetery (or in other parishes or cemeteries). Since the account is to be paid the father's surname is included!
The Dunn accounts are lost for a significant volume of post 1837 registration (in one of the various fires at their premises). However the survivals indicate that after initial years of registration compliance difficulties were overcome that the Funeral account still births are located in the Bromley registration district several by name offered by bereaved parent on registration or by gender aged 0. As I have progressed to accounts in the 1870's there is reassuring evidence that both records can help to identify still birth in a family.
If a still birth was before 1992 and before 28 weeks of completed pregnancy sadly it is unlikely that there is any record of the child. My twin sister was delivered at full term and there is no evidence of burial or cremation. My parents were told that the hospital would arrange for disposal of her body and there is no record of her at the local registration district or local cemetery or Crematoria service.
Which is why the records of funeral directors can be so valuable to an archive or researcher. It seems that post 1948 parents bereaved could often be told that hospitals had arrangements and parents were disempowered in the process. It is possible that a hospital had an arrangement for group burial or cremation in which case a record should exist but this was not the case in my own family in the case of my other siblings.
Since the 1980's parents were consulted about arrangments for the funeral and this lead to a change in 1992 to require Cemeteries and crematoria to record as still born children who died after 24 weeks gestation. Cemeteries and cramatoria have been required to keeps records of still born children and those who die after birth but they came into existence usually in the late nineteenth century so surviving funeral accounts are very valuable.
Hospital records do not always detail nor are they kept long enough to be of practical help;hospital closures have also lead to loss of records. Funeral Directors similarly have ceased to be local family run businesses and on takeover by large companies did not always keep or deposit their records in a local archive.
If you are attempting the emotional task of trying to find what became of your child or sibling I can recommend the practical help of Stillbirth and neonatal death charity (SANDS) and the support line. It is comforting to me to know that The SANDS garden at the National Arboretum and services held annually are for my family even though I have been unable to locate my siblings through record sources.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

The poetry of Miss Ann Holmes to Hugh Doherty when confined in her father's house

Within the copy of Wilson's Accurate Description of Bromley published in 1797 Bromley Archives reference Bromley Archives Catalogue  there are two handwritten entries of poetry written "by Miss Ann Holmes to Hugh Doherty Esquire whilst confined in her father's house."

"If in that heart so good so pure,
Compassion ever-loved to dwell,
Pity the sorrows I endure
The causes I must not dare to tell.
The grief that on my quiet peeps
That rends my heart that chains my tongue,
I fear twill last me al my days but feel it cannot last me long."
An additional poem is written:
Thro'the bars of my prison I see
The birds as they wanton in aver
My heart how it pant to be free
And my looks they are wild with despair".
(included by Doherty in The Discovery page 132)

Hugh Doherty was the son of John Doherty of Dublin and was related to the Secretary of State George Canning.
Ann Holmes was the child of  a Gentleman named Thomas Holmes and is believed to have been born born in 1786. She had been well schooled and in 1804 had not reached the age of 15 (according to her father's affidavit later introduced to the King's Bench by the Attorney General). Holmes made  Hunter in 1804 owned several substantial properties and was introduced to Doherty,who took the opportunity of being seated next to Ann at dinner to pursue her.
Doherty had entered the 23rd Light Dragoons and was "upwards of 37 years of age". He was awaiting deployment to India and had debts and no "fortune or profession." Doherty formed a relationship with Ann largely through smuggled letters to her at the various Holmes households. Her father when he discovered Doherty's debts and reputation forbade him from visiting Ann and Doherty began the correspondence. He later discovered Doherty's letters and had confined Ann to his house to prevent Doherty attempting to meet or abduct her. The confinement began in 1802.
Ann became a source of concern as she deteriorated ( the letters from Doherty became her obsession) and she became sufficiently agitated to concern doctors called to attend her who were concerned about her refusal to eat and melancholic state. Sir W Farquhar recommended that her mental state be treated by Doctor Simmonds who removed her to his house. She deteriorated mentally to such an extent that she was removed to Fisher House Islington sometimes referred to as Islington Aylum. The house and grounds had been built early in the seventeenth century by Sir Thomas Fisher. It opened as a "madhouse" in 1797 and eventually closed in 1844 being demolished the following year.
Doherty made contact with one of the two Attendants at Fisher House and at Anne's suggestion procured two sleeping draughts for twelve and ten hours the first to render the unwitting Attendant unconscious whilst the other (McNab) released Ann to Doherty  then took the second draft to provide her alibi. The escape took place on 19 April 1802 around 1 am by Doherty's account. Ann had suggested fleeing to Scotland for a clandestine marriage;in the event the couple appear to have legally married in Rainham Essex on 25 May 1802 after banns. The couple had a son. Ann Doherty shortly after becoming Mrs Ann Doherty complained that Doherty was violent toward her these complaints came to her father's attention in 1806 and he began to take legal advice which culminated in the Attorney General's application to the King's Bench who granted a rule to show cause in May 1808.
Doherty accepted £2000 from Hunter under a surety but this was insufficient to avoid his creditors and whilst imprisoned for debt Hunter called in his surety. Whilst imprisoned Doherty published "The Discovery" The Discovery online his account of his relationship with Ann. He also published "Ronaldsha" in his wife's name although in 1808 when read to the court certain passage's were found to be his own attacks on Holmes Hunter.
It is in this context that following the 1797 publication of Wilson the handwritten poems appear subsequently written. The relationship was of course widely publicised. Pride and Prejudice contains a sub plot involving  Lydia the youngest Bennet daughter's elopement with Wickham;she is 15 when the relationship begins  and shows no remorse for the disgrace she causes to her family. The Ann Holmes and Hugh Doherty affair cannot have escaped Jane Austen's attention.